Former Singapore Land Transport Authority official guilty of accepting S $ 1.24 million in bribes

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times / Asia News Network): A former deputy group director of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) admitted on Thursday August 26 that he received around S $ 1.24 million in loans from entrepreneurs and sub -treaters.

Henry Foo Yung Thye, who had a gambling habit and continued to rack up debt, pleaded guilty to seven counts of corruption.

29 other charges, including cheating, will be considered in sentencing. He is due to be sentenced on September 2.

Foo first joined LTA in 1999 and held various positions there.

He was Deputy Group Manager of the Thomson-East Coast and Cross Island Lines from July 2017 until his resignation in September 2019.

His position in LTA at the time allowed him to oversee the construction of MRT stations and tunnels such as Havelock, Stevens, Great World, Napier and Orchard.

Foo was also among the managers who evaluated the LTA contracts and subcontracts for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast and Cross Island lines.

Among the loans he requested, the largest sum of $ 200,000 was granted by the director of Tiong Seng Contractors, Pay Teow Heng, in June 2017. It was in exchange for advancing the business interests of the company. entrepreneur with LTA.

Foo had called Pay to borrow the money on the pretext of having to pay off his mother’s gambling debts to the banks and loan sharks.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Chia told the court that Foo knew this placed him in a conflict of interest position, as LTA and Tiong Seng had an ongoing contract at the time.

Pay didn’t have enough money at the time, so he turned to Tiong Seng’s general manager, Pek Lian Guan, for help.

While Pek rejected the initial request, the couple ultimately agreed that Pay would borrow the money from Tiong Seng and loan it to Foo.

“The loan was granted because Pek and Pay were concerned that Foo would cause problems for Tiong Seng during the supervision of the project, because they knew that Foo was able to make things difficult for the contractors,” said the DPP Chia.

The cases of Pek and Pay are pending.

The other people Foo sought loans from were directors of companies such as the Singapore branch of the China Railway Tunnel Group, Tritech Engineering & Testing and MEPT Engineering.

In return, Foo shared confidential information relating to the LTA tenders with them and promised to support them in their bid.

His offenses came to light in October 2018, when the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau received an anonymous complaint that Foo had solicited loans from LTA’s sub-contractors.

The office was also informed that Foo had applied for loans from the Chinese rail tunnel manager to pay off the unpaid debts.

Investigations revealed that the gratuity was received from contractors and sub-contractors who had contracts of approximately $ 815 million with LTA. Foo oversaw the contracts.

Seeking a sentence of at least six years and three months in prison for Foo, DPP Victoria Ting said the case is the “biggest public sector corruption case to be prosecuted in recent times.”

“This is remarkable not only for the amount of gratuity that changed hands, but also for the fact that the corrupt recipient was located at the highest levels of the civil service,” she said.

DPP Ting added that Foo had actively applied for the loans: “Most, if not all donors, turned it down at first. It was only after repeated requests that they agreed to grant him the loans.

Foo’s attorney, Lim Ker Sheon, who represented him pro bono, said in mitigation his client suffered from a pathological gambling disorder and was found to have contributed to his offense.

“There was no premeditation or fallacy … He was a desperate man hunted down by loan sharks and he borrowed money from anyone he felt close to,” he said.

Lim requested three years and 10 months in prison for Foo, who he said had “little ability to influence the outcome of the tenders” because LTA had an “open and transparent” system of checks and balances.

Lim also told the court that his client had cooperated with authorities during the investigations.

“I’ve known Henry since I was five … (He) knows he hurts people who love him and wants to start from scratch when he gets out of prison. He has two sons that he like a lot, ”Lim said.

Foo has since returned $ 83,750, leaving a balance of $ 1,156,250.

Anyone found guilty of a corruption offense can be fined up to $ 100,000 or jailed for up to five years, or both.

If the offense is related to a business or contract with the government or a public body, the maximum jail term for each offense can be increased to seven years.

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Cynthia D. Farfan